Husband and I have some of our most frustrating conversations in the car. Well, perhaps calling it a conversation is being generous. More often than not, it’s entirely one-sided rambling on my part about a variety of “interesting” topics, like for instance how I’ve discovered the exact quantity of Easter eggs one should eat in a single sitting. It’s three if you’re interested but I’ve only proven my hypothesis on frozen Easter eggs, I have a hunch the number decreases with an increase in Easter egg temperature but that’s a topic for another blog. Somehow Husband’s lack of response and the sight of passing scenery from a car window gets my mind into musing mode. Of course, I want Husband to be enthralled by my usually inane banter just in case I’ve accidentally slipped in a gem and I didn’t know it. I mean if Husband does not exist to marvel at my ingenuity, then who does? I was deep in the middle of a contemplating how insecurities play out at work and how certain of my behaviours may be a trigger for other’s insecurities when Husband offers this in response, “Yeah, it’s a doggy-dog world”. Three things happen, first I’m excited that he’s responded to my ramblings. Second, I think, “That doesn’t make sense in the context of what I was saying,” but Husband so often replies to an internal conversation that only he’s privy to instead of what I am saying it doesn’t surprise me.
Then, a realisation hits me like a smack in the face and I ask, “Did you just say ‘doggy-dog’ world?”
Husband doesn’t skip a beat, “’Doggy-dog’ world,” he says somewhat smugly.
At this point I can’t quite keep the laughter out of my voice and I ask him with a furrowed brow, “And what exactly do you think that means?”.
“You know, people often say it’s a doggy-dog world. Haven’t you heard of it before?”, Husband explains, relishing the opportunity to educate me.
“I know of the saying ‘It’s a dog eat dog world’, but I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of a ‘doggy-dog’ world,” I try biting my lip so as not to laugh before saying, “Wait, do you actually use that phrase in public? Like have you said those exact words to other humans apart from me?”
“Yeah, I’ve said it at work even”, Husband starts to laugh
“You’ve said ‘doggy-dog’ world at work? What on earth did you think it meant?” I feel the need to tell Husband to pull over, I’m finding the situation so ridiculous that I need to look him in the eye to make sure he’s not joking with me.
“I don’t know, I thought it meant something bad, like things were bad. But that didn’t make sense to me because dogs have such good lives so it would be good to be in a ‘doggy-dog’ world. Also, what does ‘dog eat dog’ mean? That makes no sense. Why would dogs eat each other? My version makes more sense” And like that Husband has summarily dismissed the conversation
I’m not so eager to let this go and I can’t stop laughing, “What do people say when you say that to them?”
“I don’t know, I think someone looked at me weird the one time. But are you sure it’s ‘dog eat dog’? I mean in the Snoop song it goes ‘Snoop doggy-dog’” At this point Husband is completely nonplussed and although I know he’s joking I fear there may be an element of truth in what he’s saying. It’s very believable that he thought the saying came from a Snoop Dogg song.
Later that evening, I’m still laughing at the ‘doggy-dog’ world comment and I wonder what else Husband has up his sleeve. So, when he admits that sometimes he uses “ur” to replace the word “your” and “u” instead of “you” in emails, I’m flabbergasted. Part of me thinks that he’s making this up just to provoke me. “You know I have a relationship with words, right? And that part of my purpose is to string those words together to make meaning?”, I feel the need to make this explicit, so he knows he’s on dangerous grounds.
“Yeah, but everyone knows that they mean. Besides it takes too much time to write out the entire word,” and then he offers, by way of peace making, “But I don’t always do it, sometimes I write out the entire word”.
“What, when you write emails to the Queen? Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing with you” I laugh, there’s no menace in my voice when I say it. Husband very often is the antithesis to my ability to over-think and look deeply into everything. Very often it’s an annoying juxtaposition but at times like this it reminds of our place in each other’s lives and that I love Husband for the ease in which he navigates uncertainty, or simply, the things that don’t interest him. It’s sort of like he decided very early on that words where just that, words. They serve a purpose and if there is a common understanding, there’s no need to pretty things up. Does he care that he goes around saying “doggy-dog” world when he should be saying “dog eat dog” world? Not a chance. He doesn’t even care that he barely understands his made-up version either. For him metaphors and recalling the correct version of age-old sayings don’t move the dial. I put myself in his shoes and think, If that were me, I’d be mortified. I’d want to hide myself away for a few years and only come out after the world had ended. But here is Husband, not a care in the world, one shoulder shrug away from forgetting our entire conversation.
Somewhere in Husband’s madness and his reluctance to be pulled into mine, is a thing of beauty. Somewhere in that I find myself wishing I coined the “doggy-dog” world phrase. I wish I had made meaning of it in the cavalier way Husband had. Because in that meaning making process Husband had decided what was important and was not. He had made meaning in a way that mattered to him and he didn’t take himself seriously enough to be flummoxed when he was wrong. In that I find the elegance that was missing from the phrase he massacred. In it I am jealous and in it I marvel at the way Husband’s mind works. It makes me feel like I should observe him and document my findings for the next generation. It makes me think that maybe Snoop and Husband were on to something, that maybe we should start embracing what it means to live in a “doggy-dog” world.